COVID-19 test positivity rate rises to 10% in Allegheny County; over 100 new cases for 4th day

PITTSBURGH — Another day of near record numbers of coronavirus cases in Allegheny County has leaders alarmed heading into the holiday weekend.

Two weeks ago, 177 new coronavirus cases in the county would have been unheard of. Friday, it’s a small amount of relief for county executive Rich Fitzgerald after yesterday’s record of 233.

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“It’s shocking how quickly the numbers have risen really over the last week,” he said.

Since Monday, there are 712 new coronavirus cases in Allegheny County, 90 more than the entire month of May.

Friday marked the fourth straight day of more than 100 new cases being reported in the county, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 3,280 cases. Total hospitalizations rose to 406 and there were no new deaths reported Friday.

Despite this, Fitzgerald said the closure order issued Thursday is meant to keep the numbers as low as possible and prevent new cases from spreading rapidly.

“We’ve seen these numbers really spiking in places like Florida, Texas and Arizona where they haven’t really done as many mitigating strategies. We don’t want to go there. We don’t want to be in a place where our hospitals start to get overrun,” Fitzgerald said.

The Allegheny County Health Department is recommending people stay home this holiday weekend. Health officials said the the rate of positive infection has also increased from 5% to 10% on Friday. According to Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Center, a high positivity rate could be from the community “testing the sickest patients and possibly missing milder or asymptomatic cases. A lower positivity may indicate that a community is including in its testing patients with milder or no symptoms. The WHO has said that in countries that have conducted extensive testing for COVID-19, should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days.”

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New case investigators have also been brought on as well as additional staff in the health department. Department officials said they will be working through the holiday weekend.

Statewide, experts with the Department of Health report 667 additional positive cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That brings the state total to 88,741 cases since the first cases were reported in March. There are 6,746 total deaths attributed to the virus with an increase of 34 people who died.